Betrayal

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A mistake which she regrets

“Regret is a form of punishment itself,” Anonymous

~~~

She’s running without breathing, with the drops of sweat on her forehead, her shivering legs too weak to run any faster. Her entire body is as cold as ice. There is no voice in her mind but only one sentence, ‘Anna has been murdered’. Her destination seems so far today. She feels like Earth is flat and she is on one corner of the Earth and her destination on the other.

Suddenly she hears a voice, a voice which makes her stop. A voice that makes her angry. A voice that makes her feels every kind of terrible emotion. Her entire body becomes stiff as she hears that deep voice. Her shivering legs stop at that voice.

“Where are you running like that? The driver has been horning for the past 2 minutes. If you want, we can drop you. You can also tell us about your decision on the way,” A deep voice says.

But that deep voice makes her feel nauseous. That deep voice makes her remind of only two words, “Bad circumstances”

She feels like someone is standing just right next to her, looking at her with concern. She doesn’t know when he came out of the car. When he came and stand so close to her.

“Leia, are you okay?” The person asks.

“Bad circumstances” She whispers in reply.

“What?” The person questions.

“Dangerous circumstances mean taking the last relation a person has?” She mumbles without looking at the person’s face as she knows who she is talking too.

She is talking to the murderer of her best friend. The murderer of the only person she could talk to in this world.

“What are you saying? I don’t understand!” The person says, and she feels like slapping him.

She raises her head slowly and looks at her friend’s murderer’s face.

She feels regret for that time when she let him enter her house.

“You want to know about my decision?” She asks and Cielo nods.

His audacity makes her lose every bit of control and she raises her hand to slap him, but unfortunately, someone grabs her arm from behind.

“Look girl, remember whom you are talking to and what you are talking about,” The person says and leaves her arm in a sudden move.

She turns her face behind and finds the friend of her friend’s murderer. Her heart tells her to kill him and make Cielo feel what she’s feeling, but there’s conscience in her even in the worst situations.

She turns her face towards that disgusting man again and asks, “How could you? How could you murder her? How dare you?” She questions him and with every question she takes a step towards him.

“What are you talking about? I don’t know what you are saying”, Cielo says in a confused tone, and that makes Leia angrier.

“So you forget after murdering people, huh?” She yells and closes her hand in a punch, “I broke Omertà and you killed my best friend, huh?”

Rocco puts a hand on her mouth and whisper-yells, “Don’t yell. You are lucky that there is no one in the street except for us”

“You broke Omertà?” Cielo’s voice becomes deeper and a hint of accent reflects in his words.

“And you murdered my best friend. And now you have the audacity to come and ask me about my decision!” As soon as Rocco removes his hand from her mouth, she yells again,

Tears are running on her face. Her hairs are no longer in a ponytail. Her hand and legs are shivering. She looks like a high, homeless person right now.

“Girl, control your emotions. Boss didn’t kill anyone in this town”, Rocco shakes her from her shoulder and says each word with force.

“If you haven’t then who would have? If you had to kill someone you could kill me. Why her? She’s innocent,” Leia’s voice turns to a low volume.

“She seriously needs a tranquilizer,” Rocco says, “We should take her to the hospital…,”

“I have to go. I have to go see her myself”, she hurriedly says and starts walking again, but Cielo stops her by grabbing her arm.

“You are coming to the hospital with us right now” He says in a calmed voice and starts pulling her arm towards his car.

She doesn’t protest as she’s not in her complete senses.

Once she settles down and the driver starts driving, Cielo starts saying, “This is black cobras’ deed. If I came to know about you breaking Omertà before, I would have definitely given you punishment. But the important thing is that I just came to know about it. And anyway, I can’t be that cruel to kill someone innocent just because you couldn’t keep your mouth shut…,”

“Look at her condition. I don’t think she is listening,” Rocco says and gives Leia a look of sympathy.

“I am”, she mumbles.

“It’s okay. We can discuss this later. Right now you have to relax. Please take a large breath,” Rocco says and starts rubbing her shoulder.

Cielo gives Rocco a glare for interrupting him and his reply is, “Look how white she’s looking”

“I should have told her to come with me on the walk,” she says with her eyes down, “Or better yet, I should not have gone to her place last night”

“You told her about us being an illegal organization in her house!?” Cielo asks in his sudden-changed posture, “Are there any cameras there?”

Leia stays silent in answer.

“Are there any cameras there that record voices?” Cielo yells this time.

She again keeps silent, and that’s enough to trigger Cielo.

He moves a little closer towards her and shakes her with a lot of force.

“Are there any?,”

“No!” She yells the same word thrice.

“Police must be investigating that place. You are lucky that there aren’t. If there would have been any......”

“Hospital is here, sir”, the chauffeur’s voice comes.

“Rocco, go with her”

~~~

“So I guess you are a little calm now,” Cielo says, looking at Leia.

“She’s still in poor condition, Cielo,” Rocco answers.

“Please drive faster. If you can’t then drop me here, I’ll go there by myself,” this time, Leia is the one to speak.

“Not so fast, girl,” Cielo says and gives her a look, “First, we need to clear out something”

“Cielo, my answer is no. Okay? I don’t want to work for you. Just stop bothering me and go back,” Leia says in a careless tone.

“We’ll talk about that later. First, tell me what you will say to police in your friend’s home”

“I’ll tell them everything,” Leia answers.

“Wrong answer! If you dare to do that…,”

“Everything but the part about you”, she says in a little more stable tone.

“Good! That was the thing we needed to clear. Don’t whisper the word ‘mafia’ even to yourself for the next one month. Today, I am going back. I’ll come again after a month when you’ll be a little more stable. When your loss won’t be as large as it is today,” Cielo tells her and she seems like she isn’t listening,

“My loss will always be this large”

“Anyway, I am dropping you here. Now you can’t go in front of the police in a SUV, can you?” Cielo says, and Leia notices that the car has been still for some time now.

“Thanks”, She says it like she doesn’t mean it and she really doesn’t.

“Leia, if you even whisper the word ‘mafia’ then black cobras will be here killing someone else close to you. And I’ll be setting your house on fire. I know you are not in an excellent condition but still try to keep your mouth in check”

“I have nothing more to lose”

“Innocent people will lose their lives, Leia.......” This time Rocco tries to explain, but she starts yelling.

“I got that! Okay? I won’t whisper a word about you or black cobras to anyone. I have gotten my lesson. Can’t you just let me go now?”

“I am ignoring your way of speaking and telling you once again, don’t…”

“Okay! Okay!”

~~~

The sound of police sirens, the sight of Sierra crying, the crowd of people makes everything seem more real to her.

Knowing your friend has died isn’t as worse than knowing your friend has died because of you.

She blames herself for everything. In her mind, she’s the indirect murderer of her friend.

She takes slow steps towards the ambulance. Her vision is blurry and her eyes are in terrible condition because of continuous crying.

She lingers her head inside the ambulance and there it is. There is the dead body of the person she could always rely on. The sight of that makes her breathing bad. She inhales and then exhales. She feels like there is not enough air for her to inhale.

“Leia”, someone calls her name, and she turns around to find Rufus with tears in the corners of his eyes.

She hiccups and starts crying with a little noise now.

“Leia Relish?” A police officer comes in front of her and calls her name.

“Yes, that’s me”, she says, trying to control her crying.

“You were the last person whom Anna Williams met. Come with us”

“What?” Rufus asks the police officer with concern.

“Miss Relish is a suspect”

~~~

“But you can’t interrogate any of us right now. We are not in the condition as you can see,” Rufus tries to reason with the police officer.

“Look, Mr. John, it’s a murder case. It’s serious. We have to start working on the case as soon as possible”

“But you can see what condition my wife and this poor girl are in,” Rufus’ voice becomes louder.

“They are going to get tranquilizer in 5 minutes. Don’t worry,” the police officer says in a final tone.

~~~

“What’s this?” Leia questions.

“Tranquillizer, ”

“I don’t need it. I already took one,” She says.

A police-officer standing a little closer raises his eyebrows, “So you got the news of your best friend’s death and you ran to a hospital for a tranquilizer”

“N-no! No! I... I was coming, but I ran into my old friend on the way. I was crying and told him about Anna and he convinced me I should go to the hospital as I was in a bad condition”

“Where is that friend of yours now?”

“He had... He had a flight. He had to go. His work is like that,” Leia tries to explain.

“What’s his name?”

“Uh...” Leia’s stuttering voice makes Sierra speak up.

“We won’t talk until our lawyer comes,” She says in a sobbing voice.

“Miss, we just want your statement. The actual suspect here is Miss Relish”

“What the fuck you want to say? Are you trying to say I killed Anna? I killed my best friend?” Leia bursts out.

She was already feeling guilty enough as she thought she was the indirect murderer. And that policeman was getting on her last nerves.

Sierra gently wraps her arms around Leia and starts saying soothing words in her ear.

~~~

“First, your father disappeared. Now your best friend has been murdered. That’s why maybe they will run a mental health check on you,” the lawyer says.

“What?”

“Don’t worry! You just have to trust me and tell everything. Each and everything. And we’ll get you out of this”

‘Everything?’ Leia thinks and shudders. No way is that she is going to tell anyone else anything. No way is that she’s going to put anyone else in danger. No way is that she’s going to feel any more guilty.

“Yesterday, I-I was feeling a little down because of my father. I was missing him and was in a sad mood,” she starts telling, but tears again start collecting in her eyes.

“Miss Relish, you have to collect yourself and tell everything. Only then I can help you,” the lawyer tells her.

She gives him a small nod, rubs her eyes, and starts speaking again, “Anyone can confirm this from Sierra Johns. Anna convinced me to come with her to her place and share my emotions with her. I agreed. We even stole a wine bottle from the restaurant. So we-we went to her place near 11 o’clock. She freshened up. I made mac and cheese. She ate, and I tried to, and but I couldn’t. And then she opened the...wine bottle, and we started talking. I don’t remember everything, but I cried, and she soothed me. I crashed down on the sofa. She went to her room. That’s the last.... blurry memory I have of hers”

Tears again start collecting in her eyes. The lawyer offers her water, and she takes the glass from him.

She drinks a little and starts talking again, “Next morning, when I woke up, I was still feeling stressed. I was missing my dad and I remember how we both used to go on walks together. So I went on a jog. Without saying good morning or looking in her room once, I came out of the house. And that’s a mistake I did. I should have... I should have invited her with me,” A little sob comes out of her throat at the end.

“What was the time when you went on that run?”

“I don’t know exactly. But it was around 7,” Leia answers after thinking a little.

“Anna Williams was murdered around 8. Also one of her neighbors saw her picking out milk around 7:30. And after running the tests, they confirmed that she was murdered around 8. And you are saying you left around 7 so you could not murder her unless you came back. Do we have any witnesses?”

“Witnesses?”

“Someone who saw you on running track during those times?” the lawyer questions.

“I said hi to a couple of people. And I also talked to Uncle Bob, a friend of my father’s. I especially stopped jogging to talk to him. I can say that he’s a proper witness”

“At what time you talked to him?”

“I don’t know, as I didn’t have my phone with me. I never took it to work”

“Estimation?”

“I think I had been running for more than half an hour by then,” Leia answers after thinking a little.

“Let’s say you talked to him around 7:45”

Leia nods.

“And in how much time one can go from the victim’s house to the park?”

“20 minutes”

“Well, your case isn’t that week. We can take recordings from the cameras of the park too. And we also have a witness, as you say. I am taking you out on bail now. But they’ll have an eye out for you. You will have to come in front of the judge during the trial, ”

She sighs and says, “Okay!”

“I should go then to start processes”

“Thank you”

~~~

“Leia, are you okay?” Rufus asks her as soon as she steps out.

“What do you think?” she says in a tone with no emotion, “I am being accused of my best friend’s murder”

“And I think they are right”, the thought comes into her mind and a fresh wave of guilt revolves around her body.

“They have kept you there all day. I think you should come to our place and rest a little”

“I wanted to see Anna one last time. But the police didn’t let me. I really wanted to, Rufus. Do you think I deserve all of this?” Leia starts sobbing again.

“No, you don’t, dear. Why are you thinking like that?” Rufus says and gently hugs her.

‘That’s because she died because of me. Because I am the one who brought her into this mafia’s mess,’ she thinks, and a louder sob comes out of her throat.

He removes his arms, and she asks in a little voice, “Who... who discovered her after...”

“Joshua came back”, Rufus understands what she is trying to ask and answers her.

“Oh, my god! Joshua! He was going to propose to her this Saturday. He asked me about the ring,” more sobs start coming from her throat.

“Calm down, honey,” Rufus says, gently rubbing her back, “We will get justice for her”

“Then they should go after the right culprit. Why are they wasting their time on me?”

“You and Joshua. He’s also a suspect,” Rufus replies sadly.

“What? Is police out of its mind?” She yells. Her sadness starts turning into angriness.

“Honey, calm down. It’s their work, they know better”

“If it’s their work, then they should do it properly!”

~~~

Rocco has been feeling guilty since she saw Leia. He remembers the time when he lost his father. He can’t imagine what would happen if he didn’t have this family at that time. If anyone that can feel Leia’s pain properly than that’s him.

“You were a little unfair, Cielo,” he finally manages to say.

“What? Are you saying that I should have just let someone who knows about us live?” His accent turns into an angry one.

“You knew she was emotional, you knew she was drinking. You could stop her from spilling. But you were hearing everything peacefully instead,” Rocco doesn’t want to take a step back from this argument.

“Rocco, that’s the difference between you and me. When I do something, I do it both for the present and future. This death was important for Leia. Now she won’t dare to spill this thing to anyone else. That’s how I can go home peacefully. And you’ll see how much this will help Leia accepting our offer. She will realize that she’s not safe here”

“She is safe here; you are making it unsafe”

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